13 November 2009

written stuff

Admittedly, I don't read a lot (outside of comics...even those I've been pretty behind on)

Over the summer I did read the Albert Camus book, the Stranger.
Well, at least the first part of it. Which I actually really enjoyed, I should finish it someday, but I'm pretty sure I won't. However, the part I read, actually I found to be quite inspiring. The main character in it, is just completely and utterly uncaring, it's as if nothing seems to really affect him. He's just totally unmotivated, but not only that, he kills a guy, with no need, he didn't have to, he actually didn't even need to ever go down there. And he just doesn't give a shit. I like that. Here's a character who's utterly resigned from life, he's no longer really a person, just a dead man walking.

Design Article
Chuck is the embodiment of the dreams of thousands of DeviantArt users—he started out in screenprinting just after high school, worked for t-shirt maker Threadless by day and began creating a name for himself in the online art community by night. Under the pseudonym NoPattern (now the name of his design shop), he achieved incredible success at a startlingly young age: You've seen his work before on projects with Pepsi, Urban Outfitters, Reebok, and many more. My personal favorite has to be the cover art for Lupe Fiasco's fantastic debut album, Food & Liquor:
An interview with the designer behind the new Windows 7 background and login screens. I found it to be rather interesting to read about some of the choices and the process behind going from a small time designer, working for threadless, and moving on to working with a huge company like Microsoft.

I haven't spoken about it explicitly yet, but Bruce Springsteen is a big influence of mine, I had read an interview with him, about the song Stolen Car.

BRUCE SAYS: “‘Stolen Car’ was the predecessor for a
good deal of the music I’d be writing in the future. It was
inner-directed, psychological; this was the character whose
progress I’d soon be following on Tunnel of Love. He was
the archetype for the male role in my later songs about men
and women.”
—Songs essay on The River.
“[‘Stolen Car’] was the presentation of that particular guy, of
somebody who was concerned with those ideas, for the first
time: that if you don’t connect yourself to your family and to
the world, you feel like you’re disappearing, fading away. I felt
like that for a very, very long time. Growing up, I felt invisible.
And that feeling is an enormous source of pain for people.
To make your life felt, it doesn’t have to be in some big way;
maybe it’s just with your family and with the job, the basic
things you live for. So to have somebody who could feel himself
slipping away from all that, and who didn’t know what to
do about it, that idea was related to the heart of almost all my
music. The struggle to make some impact and to create meaning
for yourself and for the people you came in touch with.”
—MOJO interview, 1998
The River, as an album, is one of my favorites, and Stolen Car is one of the (in my opinion) best songs off of it. This segment really sums up a lot of things I feel and relate too, and the song cuts to the heart of the themes and subjects I'm interested in. Again, this song and Fade Away, both are tunes that have been of great interest to me.

I already wrote a post about Dan Fogelberg, but his songs have recently seen a resurgence in my life and influences, I think it's because I've finally actually started listening to the lyrics and I've realized while he has quite a bit of real positive stuff (which doesn't quite relate to my thesis) when the man is bitter and down, damn it he writes a good song about it, and damn it that's kind of what I'm into.
Tucson, Arizona rising in the heat like a mirage
Tony keeps his Chevy like a virgin locked in his garage
He brings it out at midnight and cruises down the empty boulevards
And he prowls the darkened alleys that snake between the city's thirsty yards
The lonely desert skies reflect the anger in his eyes and it is dawn

His father died of drinking and left five children sinking with his mom
His older brother Bobby never made it back from Viet Nam
With high school well behind him he lives at home and works this shitty job
And he thinks his '60 Chevy is the only true amigo that he's got
His heart is filled with sadness and his soul is like some ugly vacant lot

Mary Estelle Hanna came out from Louisiana for the sun
A deal gone bad in Dallas left her burned and broke and on the run
To make the rent and groceries she takes this job at $3.15 an hour
Serving shots of whiskey and tequila in some smoky red-neck bar
And she dreams some day she'll make her way to L.A. and become a movie star

Tony saw her working, he swallowed hard and asked her for a date
Mary laughed and answered "I would but every night I'm working late"
He said he had some cocaine that she could have if she'd just ride along
She said "What the hell, I may as well, I haven't had no fun in so damn long"
He picked her up at closing time they pulled out on the road and they were gone

Tony's mom got frantic when she found her son had not come home
Mary's roommate panicked and called the sheriff from a public phone
They asked her lots of questions
She tried her best to tell them what she saw
And late that night they found poor Mary lying in some narrow, dusty draw
The coroner reported that she hadn't been deceased for very long

Two weeks on they found it buried to the windshield in the sand
There inside lay Tony with a small revolver in his hand
The papers simply stated it must have been the drugs that drove him mad
The neighbors speculated what could make a good boy go so bad
Well, it might have been the desert heat
It might have been the home he never had
This song talks about the kind of character I've found myself interested in, the burnt out guy on the edge, who, no one really suspects. The pervasive loneliness that Tony exists in, and the last line, hints at this larger idea, that this guy, he wasn't some random crazy, it was a building turmoil.

Casino Royale:
I've always liked James Bond, but the thing that must be taken into account when discussing James Bond, is that the book and the movie are wholly different characters. The Bond in the Fleming's books, is not a nice guy, I wouldn't even say he's charming. He's a desolate loner, who is capable of being charming only to accomplish a mission, he's a cold bastard. And I like that. The movie softens it up a lot, but in the book, when James Bond announces 'the bitch is dead' he moves on, immediately, he just shuts it all down and doesn't care about her afterward. The way he's so damn cold and calculated, that he's just an efficient man, a professional. It's a theme that interests me, the professional, who really has nothing for a heart.

Frank Sinatra. There's going to be a few entries about his songs, because I got into some of his 'concept records' that he recorded when he was at Capitol, and they follow and pertain to the characters and themes that I want to investigate with my work.

Sinatra lovingly calls these songs, 'Saloon Songs'. His live versions of them are wonderful if only for his introductions, the way he describes the characters in the songs, as a, 'guy whose girl left with all the dough, and he's out wandering the streets, down at the bottom, looking for someone to connect to, he thinks he'll find it in a bar'. That's the gist of what he says, but it's something that I think about a lot.

First up: One For My Baby.

It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place, Except you and me.
So set 'em' up joe, I got a little story, I think you should know
We're drinking my friend, to the end, Of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby, And one more for the road
I know the routine, put another nickel in the machine
I feel kind of bad, can't you make the music, Easy and sad
I could tell you a lot, but it's not, In a gentleman's code
Make it one for my baby, And one more for the road
You'd never know it, but buddy I'm a kind of poet
And I've got a lot of things I'd like to say
And if I'm gloomy, please listen to me, Till it's talked away
Well that's how it goes, and joe I know your gettin'
Anxious to close, Thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn't mind, My bending your ear
But this torch that I found, it's gotta be drowned
Or it's gonna explode
Make it one for my baby, And one more for the road
Again, the themes that interest me, are heavily present here, and the song itself is a character study, about a man at the end of the road. Someone who's looking to drown out their problems, and let them loose on some stranger.

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